Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Systems that Foster Independence and Save Time

Generally educators are mavericks when it comes to classroom systems--they have systems for class jobs, line-up, attendance, and passing in homework.

I must say that's never been my forte. I typically wait to know the students before creating the systems.

For example, when it comes to class jobs, I wait until the right person emerges. The one who shows an interest and skill for the job. For example, our class manager emerged early. It was clear she wanted to run a few systems in the class, and I was delighted to transfer the reigns of those systems to her.

Similarly paper passes also emerge--they're also prepared and ready to go first therefore they have the extra time and organization to pass out the papers.  Buddy coordinators emerged also--two girls who had a bit of extra time during the week and who were highly organized and interested in our Buddy program. Today, I'll choose some STEAM managers. One has already come forth and asked if she could organize the center.

There will be many more assignments as students demonstrate interest and ideas.  I run the class with the notion that the physical structure and the community belong to all of us.

I also don't force homework systems at the start of the year. I like to know who my students are and what kind of support they have at home for home study. In fact, I typically wait until after the first family conference to manage those expectations as parents can give me the whole story about the home routines, needs, and access to tech and other tools.  So, until that happens, I'll mostly manage the home study on a person-to-person basis.

Good systems foster independence and allow the classroom to run without a lot of extra talk and time.  Yesterday I opened up the discussion with the students as to how we can manage our class better, and they had some great ideas.  Today I'll put some of those ideas into place, and possibly have a meeting to generate and create more ideas for classroom independence and efficiency.

It takes time to get the routines down, and that's more noticeable when you make a grade switch or room change. We're ready for some revision, and the students and I will revise in ways that strengthen our classroom efforts and pave the way for greater, dynamic learning. Onward.